Newcastle United played host to the inaugral Newcastle CEO Sleepout last week.

The Magpies' finance director John Irving joined more than 50 of the region's top businessmen, giving up a night of comfort to sleep out by the side of the St. James' Park pitch.

Organised by Middlesbrough & Teesside Philanthropic Foundation in partnership with Newcastle United Foundation, the CEO Sleepout was opportunity for business leaders to raise awareness and important funds for essential homeless services in the city.

"We were pleased to host the first CEO Sleepout in Newcastle," said Irving.

"It certainly opened my eyes and make me appreciate how lucky most of us are.

"Our Foundation is looking forward to helping set up the Newcastle Homeless FC. The Foundation works with 50,000 people a year and sees first hand every day how football has the power to change lives."

The UK's first CEO Sleepout took place in March 2013 in Middlesbrough and raised £30,000 from 30 executives. It is anticipated that the Newcastle event will beat this target, aiming to raise over £50,000.

Funds raised from the Sleepout will help a range of projects which support vulnerable and homeless people in this part of the region. It will also fund the Newcastle Homeless Football Club, a new initiative which aims to improve the health, confidence and life chances of homeless people across Tyneside.

Stephen Bell, Cyrenians chief executive, was among those to take part.

"Working at the sharp end of homelessness and social exclusion in the region, I see day-in, day-out the very real challenges faced by people with no option but to sleep on our streets," he said.

"With temperatures dropping and homeless numbers rising by nearly 2,000 in the last year, events like the CEO Sleepout raise awareness of this important issue - as well as vital funds for the work of organisations like ours."

Others who took part included Nigel Mills (director of Mills Group), Chris Robson (managing partner at Ryecroft Glenton), Brian Foreman (head of corporate banking team, North East Barclays), John Marshall (vice-chair at Bond Dickinson) and Wendy Taylor (head of media at Newcastle United Football Club).

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